The Solaris from Campfire Audio was one of the most premium products. It was recently discontinued, but now the Solaris is back with a revamped design. With this new version of the Solaris comes a significant price hike. Now going by the Solaris Stellar Horizon, this new model will be priced at $2,670. Is it too much of an asking price, or does the product warrant this jump?
What You Get
- 3x ‘Time Stream’ Cables: 3.5mm Stereo, 2.5mm TRRS Balanced, 4.4mm Balanced
- Dimension Folding Leather Case with Magnetic Closure and Complimenting Carabiner
- RipStop Cable Pouch with Magnetic Closure
- 3x Marshmallow Tips (S,M,L)
- 3x Silicon Tips (S, M, L)
- Earphone Cleaning Tool & Campfire Audio Lapel Pin
- ‘Ohm’ Hand & ‘Lava Flow’ Risograph Printed Display Background
Look & Feel
The shape of the Solaris is the same, but the Stellar Horizon shrinks it down considerably. Its outer cavity is also changed to a silver stainless steel housing, and the faceplate has a special new design. Brass accents and gold inlays bring up the style points even more, forging a spectacular aesthetic. Gold over black always looks fantastic, and the Solaris Stellar Horizon uses it to form a striking set of earphones. With the fit, I think it can be hit or miss. Although the size definitely works more naturally with the shape of your concha, the length of the nozzle makes it sit awkwardly. Especially when you use foam tips, the housing gets suspended in a weird way, and I had to readjust them a few times.
Underneath this immaculate shell is a hybrid system that uses new components not commonly used in many driver systems for IEMs. A 10mm ADLC dynamic driver uses a radical venting system that aims to expand the space of the driver to enhance its potential for soundstage dynamics. Three custom dual-diaphragm balanced armatures are utilized to significantly upgrade the power of the signal flow without any added distortion.
Starting with one of the Stellar Horizon’s best characteristics, the soundstage is massive. From the left channel to the right, these IEMs feel like they’re protruding right past their outer shell and into the open air. The imaging is able to exhibit incredible spatial dynamics for an IEM, including excellent separation and pinpoint movement. Panning is incredibly precise throughout, offering a similar level of accuracy heard with the U12T by 64 Audio. It’s rare you ever hear anything stay in one place while listening to the Stellar Horizon, as the complete image is constantly shaping itself around you and immersing you in the live environment.
What’s most impressive, is that the Stellar Horizon is able to stay totally faithful to the stereo field without expanding into a holographic sphere of sound. The soundstage sticks to a traditional stereo presentation but will have tall instruments and forward-leaning vocals to add dimension to its many layers. Everything that the Stellar Horizon is able to decipher will be able to stand out clearly within the soundstage, perfectly highlighting each section of the mix with equal transparency.
Potentially the weakest area of the Stellar Horizon is the bass. It possesses good clarity but lacks significant impact. Specific bass performances are given a nice spotlight at a surface level, but there is no consistent lift to the response. The timbre ends up feeling a little too lean and leaves out a significant amount of vibration from the mix. Pushing the IEMs into my ear more gives the bass a bit more meat, especially when using foam tips. However, aside from the discomfort, the lows just lack a liveliness that exists throughout most of the other ranges of frequency.
You won’t miss a single detail in the midrange of the Stellar Horizon, as it brings the sound signature to a stark resolution. It feels like not a single detail is missed, as the Stellar Horizon operates with pinpoint precision that will grant you lifelike vocals and instrumentation. Each performance has room for maximum expression, offering up a realistic sound that will place you at the center of each track. This lush presentation provides hard-hitting notes from piano keys to snare drums that pound at your temple. Then there are vocals that are simply stunning when listening to the Stellar Horizon. They emerge from the mix with a crisp display that underlines each phrase with a serene tone that makes you feel like the track is being performed directly in front of you.
You’ll get almost the exact same resolution from the highs as you do the mids, and it can have some interesting results. Overall, these highs are incredibly distinct in the sound signature, however, the tone is a little hard to fully digest. There’s an almost metallic timbre to a lot of the high frequencies, and their contents can come off as cold and overly clinical. It won’t shy away from piercing frequencies, and it doesn’t make any note to colorize or texture the treble in a way that makes the extension here easier to consume. I do think it offers great value though, especially if you want to hear these frequencies more critically, without extra flavor that can feel artificial. These highs are thin and delicate, giving you a full picture of their expressive ton, but after a while, it can be a bit fatiguing.
There are some great qualities to the Solaris Stellar Horizon, but I don’t think it’s a sound everyone is going to enjoy. The soundstage and midrange details are great, but the absent bass and excessively metallic treble don’t make the sound signature a particularly easy one to enjoy. You also have to consider the incredible presentation, from the packaging to the fabulous design of the earphones. While it’s a phenomenal design, the fit still isn’t perfect. It seems that everything the Solaris Stellar Horizon does right, something holds it back from being easier to love. It justifies its price by feeling premium in the areas it is, but there are stronger options to consider that might be easier on your ears.
The Campfire Audio Solaris Stellar Horizon is available at Audio46.
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